Marketing communications: keep it simple; Keep It Short – Fund Management / REITs

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The desire to complicate things too much in your marketing communications can be irresistible.

When it comes to writing your marketing deck, the intention, of course, is always to clarify rather than over-complicate. You want to provide details so that investors can understand your strategy. Your strategy is complicated – if it wasn’t, anyone could do it, and you wouldn’t be relevant. We understood.

You need to communicate what sets you apart from the multitude of other managers vying for investors’ attention. That means going into a bit of detail, right? Detail is transparency, and investors like transparency, right?

The problem is that investors reading your deck won’t have the time, patience or, frankly, attention span to ingest and digest the kind of very detailed information often provided to explain how fund strategies work.

Think of almost any courtroom drama you’ve seen. The brave and downtrodden lawyers have just received the vital information on which their case rests and which their giant and super-rich adversaries have been so reluctant to provide. But there is a problem: there are now hundreds of boxes full of papers, and the only document they need is buried among tons of irrelevant documents. There are only two lawyers to take care of all this and the case starts tomorrow! How will they find what they need in time?

When you over-complicate your deck, you’re essentially doing the same thing. This is another case of too much information and too little time. Only brave lawyers are singularly focused on winning their case and will spend a sleepless night finding what they need. The investor looking at your deck has a whole bunch of others to look at and probably (definitely) won’t.

Charts are perhaps the best example of how fund managers complicate things in their marketing communications. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s their greatest strength – unless understanding the painting takes as long as reading a thousand words. In this case, the board is of little use in a game that is likely to be read by most people who view it.

My colleague JD often says that if it takes more than five seconds to figure out what a graphic says, it shouldn’t be in your deck. Five seconds is roughly how long someone will spend trying to figure out a graph. Therefore, a chart that takes longer to understand will not help you, even if it presents information that strongly supports your investment case.

The priority for your deck – or any of your marketing communications, for that matter – is that it be compelling, and to be compelling, it must be easily intelligible. This makes a simple table better than a complete or even accurate table – and the same goes for any other information you include.

There will definitely be a time and place to provide detailed information about your strategy or investment case – but your marketing platform is not. Consider your deck as a first date: the goal is not to learn everything about each other, but to know if there is chemistry between you. If so, you will get to know yourself better over time. We know the urge to go into detail can be overwhelming – but you have to resist if you want your message to get through.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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